The Flash Annual: Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato, Marcus To, Ian Herring, Carlos M. Mangual, Scott Kolins, Mike Atiyeh, Dezi Sienty, Diogenes Neves, Oclair Albert, Pat Brosseau, Marcio Takara, Wes Craig, Hi-Fi, Wes Abbott
Ready? FIGHT! That’s my video game announcer voice. Impressive, huh? Alright, so it feels like most of this entire year has been building up to this big event. Aside from the first story we saw, with Barry’s friend Manny, and that small aside in Gorilla City, everything’s been pretty much leading to this moment. Even the Gorilla City bit plays into this issue somehow.
This Annual is broken up in smaller vignettes that tell various tales relating to what’s about to happen. It opens with seven year-old Barry at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to watch some racing with his dad. It occurred to me…I’ve never seen Barry’s father before. It’s always been about his mother, especially since Flashpoint. I like that the writers are developing both sides of Barry’s parentage.
We move on then to the Rogues: who they are, and how they came to be enhanced versions of the characters we remember. Turns out it was Cold’s fault. He forced the Rogues into doing a genetic recoding with their weapons that would fuse the objects’ abilities with their bodies, thereby making them superhuman. It’s like that escalation thing Batman always talks about in the movies.
I like this more tortured version of Cold. Preboot, he was brooding, sure, but more in the quiet action movie star way. Like Gosling in “Drive.” Here, though, there’s real tragedy in his life, and he carries a heavy guilt with him always. So he feels particularly more “weighty” in this relaunch. He has a reason to be a drunk, and a reason to hate himself…although he usually externalizes that feeling. And we definitely see why his sister hates him.
Glider tells us how that whole superpowers thing happens…and we see things from her perspective too. Demon Knights’ Diogenes Neves comes in to pencil, and the Rogues look fantastic here. We also get to see Mirror Master in his more traditional, “bulkier” costume (which I mentioned last ish). I love how positively evil Wizard looks, too. The aftermath of having Mirror Master trapped in the Mirror World is genius. A villain with severe limits, and a serious grudge, separated from his love, whom he wouldn’t be able to touch anyway. I can see Sam never being able to forgive Len.
Next, Patty Spivot goes to investigate the identity of a John Doe who’s appeared in Central City…known only as Turbine. So he did escape the Speed Force. He and Patty hear the news about what’s going on at the monorail opening, with Flash and the Rogues, and Patty starts to go. Turbine recognizes Patty from watching Barry’s life within the Speed Force, and says he can take Patty to Barry. What?! But Barry’s dead!! Oh no!
Finally comes “The Showdown!” Wes Craig gives us these last pages of the Annual, and it leaves me wanting, unfortunately. I generally don’t like the expressions people are making, and I think Flash’s face looks…funny. But Hi-Fi delivers on colors as he normally does. And other aspects of Craig’s art really do look great…Cold’s ice, for example.
Cold and Flash team up to take on the Rogues. Cold disagrees with what his sister is doing, saying that she’s not following the code, and making it personal…about revenge. Flash enters the Mirror World and takes on Mirror Master, while Cold reasons with Glider. It ends with a bit of a twist, not much, followed by a really exciting addition to the story. I’m excited for #13!
The Flash Annual #1, the verdict: While I’m never a huge fan of varying art styles in single issues, I get what they’re doing here. It’s an Annual ish, and that does happen in these more often than regular issues. For me, it’s distracting, though. Especially when I’m only really a fan of two out of the five donors. I did like, though, the vignettes deal, telling each story as the issue builds to the climax at the end. Despite the separate chapters, there is still a sense of through motion and structure that actually lends itself to this seemingly disjointed series of tales and the issue as a whole. Well done, there. I would prefer if the issue didn’t end on a bit of a cliffhanger, what with it being an Annual (I tend to like those more isolated), but I do also think it’s a positive thing that this special issue feels like the normal series on steroids. A blockbuster version that perfectly serves as the third act to this whole year.
(Photo Source: DC Comics)